Hypertension refers to blood pressure – the force on the walls of the arteries allowing the blood to deliver nutrients throughout the body.
When you have your blood pressure measured, it is done with a set of two numbers. The upper number refers to when your heart beats to pump blood and is referred to as systole or the systolic reading. The lower number is when the heart muscle releases pressure and fills the blood in the diastole stage giving a diastolic reading.
Your blood pressure is measured by a device called a sphygmomanometer. It consists of a rubber bag inside a cloth armband that is wrapped around the upper arm above the elbow. The bag is filled with air from a pump to increase the pressure within it. When the bag pressure stops the flow of blood, in the main artery of the arm (brachial artery), the pulse in the arm drops. Air is then slowly allowed to escape from the bag and the pressure is lowered. At the first pulse beat the systolic reading is taken. As the air continues to escape and the ventricles of the heart are relaxing and the heart fills with blood, the second, diastolic reading is taken. The result is a fraction number such as 120/80. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure should be less than 120/80 in adults age 20 and up, though some variations are normal depending on exercise, stress or sleep.
How do you know if you are hypertensive?
Blood pressure increases as we age and the longer your pressure is in the high range the more damage is caused to your blood vessels leading to the risk of stroke, heart attack or kidney failure. You may not show any symptoms of hypertension, which is why it is often referred to as the “silent killer”, so you should have your blood pressure measured regularly as even a younger person can have high blood pressure problems depending on life style and eating habits.
A high blood pressure reading may not mean you have hypertension and you may require several more readings before you are actually diagnosed with high blood pressure. A reading should be taken when you are relaxed and calm as a high reading can happen when you are stressed in any way. If you have an appointment to have your blood pressure taken, it is a good idea to arrive as early as possible so you have time to sit and relax before your reading is taken.
What to do if you have high blood pressure?
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly or check it at home with your own monitor.
- See your chiropractor to make sure no subluxations are impeding the nerves to your vital organs.
- Have a complete physical at least once a year with blood tests for high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- A blood test for high sugar content in the blood is also vital, especially if you are prediabetic or diabetic.
- Kidney function should also be tested with a urine sample. If you are a smoker – stop smoking!
If you are eventually diagnosed as being hypertensive you should advise your family members as they may also be at risk for high blood pressure and should be tested as well.
Take a good look at your eating habits as you may have to make some diet changes. You should also be engaging in a regular exercise program, even if it is just walking. If you have always wanted to play tennis, gold or take up swimming or dance lesions – go for it!
Just remember to see your health care professionals before undertaking any exercise program and ask their advice as to what type of regular exercise is good for you. Your chiropractor can help you with this decision depending on the condition of your musculoskeletal health and can also help with nutritional advice for whole body health.